Why Technology Has Made Cold Calling Obsolete In 2019

Feb 13, 2019

Hang up the phone. We have an announcement: that person you’re about to cold call probably hates cold calling just as much as you do.

As the twenty-first century has chugged along, successful cold calls have gone the way of the door-to-door Kirby sales pitches–that is, in the trash. According to a study by Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, fewer than 0.3% of cold calls by experienced sales executives resulted in a meeting. And yes, you read that right–only 19 out of 6,264 calls yielded even the chance of a sale.

Unless you absolutely love talking to strangers on the phone, this likely is a cause for some relief. But it also raises the question of “Why?”. When did cold calling go, well, cold?

It turns out, there are a few culprits.

1. Technology exposed the cold caller.

When was the last time you took a call from an unknown number on your smartphone? Unless you were actively awaiting a mystery call, it’s likely been a while.

Thanks to caller ID, phone-users tend to be much more discerning when it comes to screening their calls. And because of the horror stories in the media about the poor souls who fall for awful scams back-in-the-day, we now are bombarded with messaging about the importance of protecting yourself from shady business dealings. Like this article from Reader’s Digest about why you should never answer unknown numbers.

Source: iDownloadBlog

The short of it is, cold calls are less effective when the targets can avoid them. And avoid targets do. A study shared by Harvard Business Review discovered that 90% of executives won’t respond to a cold call at all. Harsh.

2. Consumers are over it.

In the age of on-demand, there are few experiences more unappealing than someone else unexpectedly demanding your time and money. We just don’t live that way anymore.

As consumers, everyone from common folk to business executives have come to expect being catered to. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing–it’s created plenty of awesome things like pizza delivery, Netflix, and masseuses you can order from an app–but it does mean cold calling feels even more intrusive than ever before. Simply put, we find it annoying.

Additionally, in the era of the Internet, being “first” isn’t enough anymore. Consumer trends have changed. If you manage to call up, say, a book publisher and pitch the pants off your fabulous printer, you may convince the executive to change printers . . . but who says it’ll be to you? According to a study by Fronetics, the buying process has gotten significantly longer in recent years with 82% of buyers using research to evaluate products and services.

Source: TrackMaven

Today, consumers (especially consumers who double as decision-makers for big businesses) have been trained to be picky. According to Fronetics, 94% of buyers report getting online at some point in their buyer’s journey. When an executive can (and will) just hop on the internet and find the absolute best fit for their unique business, even good cold calling leaves you open to inspiring clever targets to take their money elsewhere.

3. Other selling techniques are less time-intensive and more persuasive.

As online entrepreneurs will happily tell you, on average, you make a 4000% return on your investments into email marketing.

With cold calls, your salesperson will need to sit down to place a call within regular business hours in your target’s time. They need to be actively present for a set amount of time and have a limited bandwidth–you can only do one call at a time. But modern selling techniques like social media campaigns, email automation, and content marketing are much less time sensitive. And more engaging.

According to a study by LinkedIn, in 2018, more than half the revenue from several industries was directly influenced by social selling, or selling using social media.

Source: LinkedIn

Another problem with cold calling is right there in its name: cold. As any seller will tell you, a warm lead is better than a cold one. According to Harvard Business Review, 84% of B2B buyers start their purchasing process off with a referral.


Congratulations! You are officially off the hook for cold calling. Now, you can spend your time raking in the leads with some modern selling strategies, like upselling and cross-selling, taking advantage of the “Millennial Mindset”, and email automation.

Do you agree that cold calling is dead? We want to hear from you! Share your experience and opinion in the comments below to join the conversation.

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